By: Ed Weaver / January 6, 2024 / Photo: Ed Weaver
Wellsboro evened up the series record at 5-5 by capturing the 10th annual Margaret (Peg) Berguson Memorial Trophy game with a 46-40 win over rival North Penn-Mansfield in front of a packed house in Wellsboro on Friday, January 5.
The Hornets have also won three out of the last four games after the Tigers won the first three in the series.
"It's a huge win. Anytime you play Mansfield everybody is up for it and this was the biggest crowd we've had all season," head coach Ron Doughtie said. "The boys fed off the crowd's energy. We started off a little slow but switched up the defense and went into a zone and they struggled with that, then we came out and played with some energy in the 2nd half. The one thing we did tonight that we haven't done against other teams is attack when we beat the press. That was huge."
Karson Dominick got the Tigers off to a quick start with a bucket just moments after the opening tip. Cooper Shaw added another early basket to put the Tigers up 5-1. Mansfield held that lead until near the mid-point of the opening quarter when the Hornets cut the lead down to 7-5 of baskets by sophomore Luke Rothermel and senior Hayes Campbell. Wellsboro's only other points in the quarter came from junior Mitchel Lechler, who hit a pair of foul shots to close the gap down to 10-7. Dominick added the quarter's last basket giving North Penn-Mansfield a 12-7 lead.
Wellsboro started the 2nd quarter out on a 6-0 run with all baskets by Lechler and Campbell. A pair of foul shots by Campbell and layup by Lechler cut the lead down to one before Campbell's second basket gave the Hornets their first lead of the game with under six minutes remaining before halftime. Shaw hit a runner to give North Penn-Mansfield a 14-13 lead, which they held until under the two minute mark of the quarter when Campbell was fouled, tying the game at 14-all. Mansfield closed out the quarter with a basket, taking a 16-14 lead.
Wellsboro controlled the second half as they outscored North Penn-Mansfield 32-24. The Hornets outscored the Tigers 10-5 in the 3rd and started out with five quick points, a three from Lechler and basket by Campbell, to retake the lead at 19-16. A layup by Brady Stetter cut the lead back down to a point, however the Hornets put together a 5-0 run, highlighted by a Lechler three, to increase their lead to 24-18. The Tigers closed out the quarter with three points, a Shaw pull-up jumper and Dominick foul shot, to pull within 24-21 at the end of the quarter.
While the Hornets outscored North Penn-Mansfield 22-19 in the final frame, the Tigers started out the quarter with four quick points to cut Wellsboro's lead down to 27-25. Senior Ian Hoose started the corner with a three, then hit another shot, to put Wellsboro back up four (29-25). After a Hornet timeout with just over six minutes remaining, Dominick drained a three to cut the lead back to a point, but Lechler and Campbell combined for four points to put Wellsboro back in front, 32-28.
Wellsboro increased their lead to seven, 37-30, with under three minutes left to play. Lechler later converted a three-point play and senior Caden Smith hit a pair of foul shots to give Wellsboro a 10-point, 42-32 lead with just over a minute remaining. The Hornets led 46-37 late before Dominick hit a three before the final buzzer. Wellsboro shot 11-of-18 in the 4th quarter, and 19-for-30 (.633) for the game. North Penn-Mansfield was 3-of-5 from the foul line.
"It's something we've taken pride in all season, the games we've played well, the Sayre game is an example, we just knocked down foul shot after foul shot at the end of the game. We did that tonight. The guys really stepped up because they were fouling a lot of different guys, we made at least one out of two, if not both, every time."
Campbell led Wellsboro with 14 points while grabbing 8 rebounds. Lechler finished with 12, Hoose added 10, Rothermel added 6, and Smith pitched in 4, all from the foul line. Lechler had 6 assists and grabbed 4 boards, Smith grabbed 6 rebounds and made 4 assists, and Rothermel grabbed 6 rebounds. Lechler's 12 was a career-high.
"That's Mitchel right there. He got a little bit of confidence and he rolled with that. I told him before the game, we had a conversation where I said 'one of these nights Mitch the rim's going to look as big as the ocean.' Before the game I told him tonight's the night and he laughed at me. He knocked down some huge shots and he attacked the rim and you saw his confidence rose as he did that. And Ian had some monster shots too, and some put backs. He didn't make the first one once or twice but he got that second chance and took advantage of it."
Dominick led North Penn-Mansfield with a game-high 20 points and Shaw added 12.
Wellsboro won the JV game 41-15 to win their 7th in a row and improve to 7-1 overall. Jonathan Carl led all scorers with 17 points and junior Lucas Cuneo added 13.
The win improves the Hornets to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the NTL Large School Division standings. The team is back in action Monday for a non-league home game with Jersey Shore.